Jordan Scores on Ratings: NBC Sports estimated that nearly 13 million American homes were tuned in Sunday to view Michael Jordan's return to professional basketball. That was more than four times the number of homes that tuned in on an NBA doubleheader a year earlier. Jordan, rusty after more than a year's retirement, showed flashes of his old form as his Chicago Bulls narrowly lost to the Indiana Pacers. NBC said the game got an overnight Nielsen rating of 13.5 and a 34 share, as compared to last year's 3.1 rating and 9 share.
Rhino Sets 'Fear and Loathing': Rhino Films, a division of Rhino Records, said it would make Hunter S. Thompson's 1972 counter-culture classic, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," its first feature-film outing. The company, which took over the film rights when director Ridley Scott's production company dropped out, says it is weighing several offers to finance the movie at budgets ranging from $7 million to $20 million. In the best-case scenario, the picture--a satirical tale about a journalist and his attorney in search of the American dream--would go before the cameras in September and be a candidate to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996. "Since generation after generation keeps discovering this book, we're hoping the movie will be a yearly annuity for us--a Mickey Mouse for the intelligentsia," said Stephen Nemeth, Rhino's head of production.
Sending a Message: Actress Rosie Perez and director Spike Lee joined with Earvin (Magic) Johnson and other sports greats Sunday at a New York hotel to raise money for AIDS education and prevention. About 800 people paid $250 each to attend "March Magic," which gave the public a chance to mingle with sports heroes and featured a sports memorabilia auction. The proceeds were earmarked for AIDS programs in New York. Other participants included New York Knicks coach Pat Riley, who coached Johnson when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers, Knicks center Patrick Ewing and former New York Giant great Lawrence Taylor. "We've just got to keep getting the message out about HIV and AIDS--especially to the young kids," Johnson said.
Attention, Academy Members: If you're holding one of the 4,924 Oscar ballots, you'd better turn it in by 5 p.m. tonight in order to be counted for Monday's Academy Awards. Those fellows in dark suits at Price Waterhouse will be tabulating the votes and placing winners' names in sealed envelopes. And you know what happens next. . . .
Alternative Oscar Note: Irreverent filmmaker Michael Moore ("TV Nation," "Roger & Me") will host Oscar night programming on Bravo, which will be timed to coincide with the Academy Awards' commercial breaks. The programming will focus on the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards, celebrating independent filmmaking, highlights of which will air during Oscar's commercial breaks.
Sculptures Beheaded: Two figures of a Henry Moore sculpture were found beheaded over the weekend at an outdoor gallery on a Scottish estate. Police were looking for the missing heads of the "King and Queen," a bronze of a man and woman sitting on a bench, which was described as one of the late sculptor's most important works. Detectives said Monday the decapitation was probably vandalism but they did not rule out political activism as a possibility. The sculpture has dominated a hill across a reservoir near the town of Dumfries for three decades. Moore, who died in 1986, was particularly fond of the natural setting given to it, said David Mitchinson, keeper of sculptures at the Henry Moore Foundation. Of the 1,200 works Moore produced, "this is very much in the top 20," Mitchinson said. Entrepreneur Tony Keswick, who started the sculpture collection in the 1950s, was away on business in Hong Kong.
Andrea Koppel, who has been a Tokyo correspondent for Cable News Network the past two years, will become CNN's Beijing bureau chief in June. Koppel, a China specialist who speaks fluent Mandarin, is the eldest daughter of ABC News' Ted Koppel. . . . Glendale-based country music station KZLA-FM (93.9), along with stations in Nashville and Phoenix, was nominated by the Academy of Country Music for radio station of the year, and Santa Ana's Crazy Horse Steak House & Saloon is in the running for the academy's best country night club trophy, competing against establishments in Denver and Fort Worth. The awards air May 10 on ABC. . . . Milan's La Scala Orchestra, founded in 1778, broke a two-century gender barrier when Claire Gibault took the baton to conduct "La Station Thermale." The 49-year-old French conductor received a long ovation following the performance. . . .